Skip Navigation

Comprehensive Community Initiatives, Improving the lives of youth and families through systems change, a toolkit for federal managers
How the toolkit was created What is a CCI? CCI Tools for Federal Staff
About the Project
Background - How the Toolkit Was Created

How the Toolkit Was Created

Over the past 15 years, the Coordinating Council on Juvenille Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Council) has seen the emergence of two major trends in Federal support for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programming.

First, Federal agencies have increasingly encouraged grantees to forge partnerships in the community among the multiple agencies serving youth and families. By funding and supporting Comprehensive Community Initiatives, Federal agencies make it possible for communities to move beyond fragmented service delivery to undertake fundamental systems change--by engaging in long-range comprehensive planning, pooling resources, coordinating service delivery, and aligning policies and procedures.

Second, many Federal agencies have entered into partnerships within and across Federal departments. Coordinated Federal action is believed to result in better service to localities because it stretches scarce Federal resources, makes available the varied expertise of multiple Federal agencies, and models the teamwork expected of grantee organizations.

In the summer of 2007, the Council decided to consolidate what had been learned from selected, intensive efforts in both of these areas--how to support Comprehensive Community Initiatives, and how to forge and maintain Federal partnerships--to make this learning accessible to all Federal managers who fund and support programming for youth and families. In this way, the Council intended to professionalize the work of systems change.

The Council created a Federal Partnership Project and designated a subgroup of Council members to serve as a work team. After some deliberation, the team set out to create, publish, and disseminate a Web-based toolkit for Federal managers who might want to develop and fund a CCI, perhaps in partnership with other Federal agencies.

What the toolkit is based on

Over the course of a year, the project team undertook four major activities to shape the toolkit.

An inventory of CCIs

Beginning with a list of more than 37 programs nominated by Council members and other Federal staff, the team winnowed the list to 7 initiatives that met a set of criteria for a CCI. The final CCI Inventory briefly describes each initiative's history, goals, target population, site locations, and how it met the criteria for a CCI. Using a similar process, the team also compiled an Inventory of Federal Partnerships.

A review of the literature

In parallel with the CCI Inventory, the team surveyed the literature relevant to CCIs and Federal partnerships. To get the most comprehensive view possible, the team explored a wide array of resources including academic journals, reports issued by think tanks and foundations, government documents, and evaluations of particular initiatives--as well as existing toolkits, guides, Web sites, and other resources that might be helpful to Federal managers. The resulting bibliography cites more than 85 sources. (See the Literature Review.)

Structured discussions with individuals representing CCI sites and federal partnerships

Working from the inventory, the team selected seven CCI sites and six federal partnerships for closer study. The sites were chosen to represent a balance of urban versus rural settings, established versus newer initiatives, and thriving vs. struggling sites.

For each site, the team conducted individual discussions with people representing four perspectives--those of a site manager, funder, technical assistance provider, and evaluator. To minimize costs, most discussions were conducted by phone; however, two sites, both in the Washington, DC area, received in-person visits from a team member. Although the discussions covered a standard set of questions geared to the discussant's role in the initiative, team members were free to divert to other topics that seemed to shed light on the CCI's successes and challenges. (See the List of Discussants and Discussion Guides: Providers, CCIs, Funders. ) Discussions lasted from 1 to 2 hours.

Working from discussion notes, the team then analyzed the observations and ideas voiced by discussants--looking for common themes and concerns, as well as conflicting perspectives. From this analysis, we distilled an initial set of guidelines under four topic areas: Funding, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Federal Partnerships.

A one-day forum of CCI professionals

In July 2008, the Council convened a forum of approximately 50 professionals including funders, practitioners, and researchers engaged with CCIs and/or federal partnerships. Working in small groups, participants reviewed the draft guidelines, made changes and additions, suggested questions that might be addressed in the toolkit, and recommended additional tools and resources. (See materials developed for the Forum: invitational letter, agenda, PowerPoint presentation, and list of participants.) This gathering also provided an opportunity for participants to meet colleagues and join with them to reflect on CCI best practices and pitfalls.

Working from the forum feedback, the team made substantial revisions to the guidelines and created a set of questions and answers to illuminate each guideline. On December 5, 2008, the final product was presented to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The future of the toolkit

Every day, professionals involved with CCIs are learning more about what makes a CCI effective and how the Federal government can best support the work of systems change. Our goal is to make this toolkit a living resource that reflects the current knowledge and wisdom of the field. For this we need your help.

Please let us know how you've used this site, and give us your feedback on the guidelines, examples, and tools. We also welcome your suggestions for additional resources that address the guidelines and illustrate points in the questions and answers. To reach us, write to